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Council President to request new wind energy ordinance

North Kingstown Town Council President Elizabeth Dolan announced today that she plans to request a new town wind energy ordinance before the town’s six-month moratorium on wind energy systems expires in June.

Dolan is expected to make the request at the council’s Apr. 6 meeting for Planning Director Jon Reiner and the town solicitor to prepare a new ordinance, addressing areas such as setbacks, height, notification of abutters, noise and other factors that have drawn public criticism in the past few months.

“We’re concerned that it’s going to take the state longer than we had hoped to get guidance,” said Dolan. “We want to get the ball rolling.”

In February, town officials – including Dolan, Town Manager Michael Embury and others – requested the Rhode Island General Assembly enact a statewide moratorium on wind energy systems until statewide planning had completed its studies on the matter. According to Dolan, it appears these studies will not be completed before the town’s moratorium ends in June.

The ordinance, passed in September 2010, has received heavy scrutiny in recent months, leading to the Town Council’s unanimous decision to enact a six-month moratorium on wind energy systems in mid January.

Dolan anticipates workshops to craft the new ordinance will begin in May following budget season and will be open to public input. According to Dolan, they will be using Charlestown’s newly proposed ordinance as a basis.

Charlestown’s ordinance requires a setback of three times the height of the entire turbine, from base to blade tip. According to North Kingstown’s ordinance, setbacks are equal to the height of the turbine’s tower. Charlestown’s ordinance would also require applicants to receive a special use permit from the zoning board – a step eliminated in the town’s ordinance. (Review Charlestown’s ordinance in our gallery above.)